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Join forces to protect foreign domestic workers

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AMMAN, Jordan, 26 August 2008: Migrants rights representatives from 15 countries today called for greater cooperation between the Jordanian authorities, international agencies and civil society for the protection of foreign domestic workers.
During a high-level roundtable forum on the situation of foreign domestic workers, the representatives welcomed Jordan’s recent move to amend the labour law to include the protection of all domestic workers but emphasised the need for implementation to begin as soon as possible. They were speaking on behalf of domestic worker associations and rights groups from origin and destination countries in Asia and the Middle East.

“We urge the Jordanian government to speedily enact the relevant by-laws to ensure the protection of domestic workers, both Jordanian and foreign. Such a standardised and efficient approach will address the serious labour and human rights violations that too many migrant workers experience. It will also allow problems or disputes to be resolved before they become critical,” said Cynthia Gabriel, Regional Coordinator of CARAM Asia, a leading regional network working on the rights of migrant workers.

Last month, His Royal Highness King Abdullah the 2nd signed this amendment which was gazetted on 17 August 2008. This has coincided with growing public awareness of cases in which foreign domestic workers have been subjected to serious violations including physical abuse, non-payment of wages and denial of rest days.

“We welcome this positive development which will strengthen Jordan’s commitment to human rights and justice. We urge the Royal Jordanian government to encourage other countries in the region to adopt similar measures for the protection of domestic workers,” said Asem Rababa, President of the ADALEH Center for Human Rights Studies.

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“We hope that the Jordanian government will work closely with civil society and migrant worker groups to ensure effective implementation of the law. Allowing migrant workers to unionise would help in this process,” said Eni Lestari, representative of Asian Migrant Coordination Body.

The high-level roundtable forum, which was hosted by the ADALEH Center for Human Rights Studies and co-organised by UNIFEM and CARAM Asia, was attended by representatives of the Jordanian government, the Solidarity Center, CARITAS Lebanon as well as groups from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand.

CARAM Asia is an open network of NGOs and CBOs, consisting of 29 members covering 17 countries in Asia and the Middle East. The CARAM Asia network is involved in action research, advocacy and capacity building with the aim of creating an enabling environment to empower migrants and their communities to reduce HIV vulnerability and to promote and protect the health rights of Asian migrant workers globally. Visit www.caramasia.org for more information on CARAM Asia.

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